WELLINGTON (Dow Jones)–A cargo vessel that ran aground off the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island has spilled more oil into the ocean, Maritime New Zealand said Wednesday, as bad weather again raised concerns the ship could split in two.
“Oil spill response teams and salvors were on heightened alert overnight after forecasts of bad weather and a 5-meter sea state threatened to cause further deterioration of the ship’s hull, and potentially release more oil or containers from the ship,” it said in a statement.
A light sheen of oil from the vessel can now be seen and it may be due to further seepage from the duct keel, Maritime New Zealand added.
The MV Rena cargo vessel struck the Astrolabe Reef on Oct. 5 on its way to Tauranga, and oil leaks were detected soon after. Salvors moved in the following day and began pumping oil onto a bunker barge. They have pumped off 1,000 tons of oil so far and there is around 360 tons still on board.
A stress fracture to the hull of the 21-year-old Rena is making efforts to remove the oil and more than 1,000 containers from the vessel difficult as it is in danger of breaking in two.
National On Scene Commander Mick Courtnell said the oil spill response team remained ready to act should any oil come ashore.
“We have the New Zealand Defence Force personnel and volunteers ready to respond if a significant leak occurs,” said Courtnell.
-By Lucy Craymer, Dow Jones Newswires